After months of anticipation and a late-breaking but unverified leak that stirred up a lot of reaction when it began circulating on Tuesday morning, New York Jets fans finally know what their team’s new uniforms will look like.
And it turns out that the leak was accurate. The Jets’ new uni set, unveiled on Thursday night at an event in Manhattan, swaps out the team’s longtime old-school look and replaces it with a sleeker, more modern design. The effect isn’t as radical as some of the other recent NFL redesigns—no digital alarm clock numbers like the Buccaneers’, and no big, honking wordmark on the pants like the Browns’—but it’s still significant makeover.
Before we get to Gang Green’s new look, here’s a quick history refresher: The Jets have had three major uniform eras so far. The first, which ran from 1965 through 1977, featured the team’s signature football-shaped helmet logo and contrast-colored sleeves. This is the look that Joe Namath wore while guiding the Jets to victory in Super Bowl III. The Jets then pivoted to a new design from 1978 through 1997, the period defined by the New York Sack Exchange. And then in 1998, they went back to the Namath-era design, with a few minor modifications, and maintained it up through last season.
But now the Jets are primed for their next uniform chapter. Here’s one observer’s initial reactions to their new look, one element at a time (with the usual caveat that we won’t really have a full read on the uniforms until we see them on the field).
The New Color Scheme
Back in the 1960s and ’70s, the Jets wore a bright, Kelly-like shade of green. Over the years it’s gotten darker (plus Nike has had problems rendering it consistently across the various uni elements).
The good news is that the new set goes back to a brighter shade of green that looks sensational. The bad news is that it has added black as an accent color on the jersey numbers, the facemask and a new alternate uni, all of which seems ill-advised.
In an interview shortly before the unveiling, Jets team president Neil Glat said the new green is designed to look better on television, where the old green often looked drab. As for the black, he said team ownership was interested in finding a third color in addition to green and white, and that the Jets explored several other color options, which he declined to name, before settling on black. The feeling here is that the black is a misstep. Still, the new green is a winner. Grade: B+
The New Logo
The Jets have preserved the feel of their old logo with a judicious update. The “New York” lettering is much clearer than the old “NY” outlining, and the new logo oval is more clearly football-shaped. Grade: A
The New Helmet
The new shell color is the single best thing about the new uniform set—a gorgeous jewel-toned emerald that shimmers nicely in the light and looks almost like candy (yes, I want to lick it). But it’s a little weird to see the logo lettering without the oval shape, and the black facemask is a mistake. White would’ve been a better call.
The visual effect of the green helmet and the classic Jets lettering is a bit like the team’s 1994 “fauxback” helmet, only without the stripes. Grade: A-
The Primary Jerseys
The new shade of green looks great, and the number font is fine (a relief, after early reports that the numbers would be Oregon-esque). But ugh, those stripes, or wings, or contrails, or whatever they are—not a great look. It feels a bit like the Jets swooped in and salvaged the now-defunct AAF’s uniforms off the scrapheap.
Also, it’s interesting that they’re putting the city name on the chest. The Browns tried that with their current set, which was unveiled in 2015, and reaction has been largely negative, with many fans thinking it makes the jersey feel too much like a college or even high school design. That goes double for the Jets, because the combination of the green jersey, the chest lettering, the black outlining on the numbers feels a lot like Marshall and North Texas. Grade: C+
On the plus side, there’s no gimmickry or silliness. But that pointy striping feels more arena league than NFL. Grade: B-
The Black Alternate
An NFL team from the northeast wearing a gratuitous black alternate with green and white trim? Gee, I wonder where we might have seen that before. Look, the whole trend of sports teams wearing black alternates had already become tedious by 2003. Nowadays, it’s flat-out embarrassing (just ask the 49ers). Clearly the low point of the new uni set. Grade: D
NFL socks have almost become an afterthought. Teams with multiple sets of pants used to routinely have corresponding socks to provide contrast with the britches (the Jets, for example, had green socks for their white pants and striped white socks for their green pants), but new uni sets these days tend to have only one sock design. That’s the case with the Jets’ new set, which has one primary sock design—green. It looks fine with the white pants but creates the dreaded leotard effect when worn with the green pants. Grade: B
It could have been worse, but it also could have been better. For long-suffering Jets fans who are looking for something new to hang their hopes on, it’s not a bad reboot. But it doesn’t have the feel of a design that’s built to last. NFL rules stipulate that a team can’t change its uniforms more often than once every five years. Does anyone really think this design will last much longer than that? Grade: B-
Paul Lukas has been covering the uniform scene for 20 years. You can read more of his uniform writing on his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.